HARTLEPOOL United do not have to ‘park the bus’ at the Pirelli Stadium to get a result against promotion-chasing Burton Albion.
That is the view of Simon Walton, who believes Pools can get a point, or more, by playing the sort of football they had been producing before the team’s disastrous five-match losing sequence.
It will be tough, given the Brewers outstanding home record – they are unbeaten in six on their own patch after a spell of three wins and three draws.
On the flip side, Pools have not won on their travels since a 2-0 victory at Dagenham & Redbridge on February 8, two draws and four defeats following on from that brilliant suceess in East London.
It would appear Pools would need a heavy defensive effort, hence the old ‘park the bus’ analogy.
But Walton thinks the side can do it by playing football and hopes the realisation that the club is in a relegation struggle will sharpen minds which possibly may have thought the season was already over a few weeks back.
“We need to go there and get a result, but not necessarily grind it out,” Walton told SportMail.
“We have proved we can match any team in this division on our day.
“It’s not a case of grinding it out but more about believing we can go there and turn them over.
“We are at the stage now we need a win.
“It’s not a situation we
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thought we’d find ourselves in but may be that’s the problem.”
Pools did show a little improvement at home to Chesterfield only to concede two goals which Walton said were “avoidable”.
Indeed, the hard-working midfielder believes a point would have been a fair result against a side who are above Burton in the League Two standings.
“It was one of those games I don’t think there was an awful lot in it,” he said.
“Chesterfield might have just had that bit of extra quality, given some of the players they have got.
“But I think if we’d had seen out a 1-1 draw, both teams would have been happy.
“But we’ve conceded shocking goals through sloppiness, laziness, however you want to put it.
“It’s not good enough, full stop.”
Walton will be one of the first names on the team-sheet at the Pirelli Stadium, following his recent performances.
Boss Colin Cooper does not have a great deal of scope for major changes given the injury situation.
He could though make a tweak here and there, especially with Pools facing two games in three days over the Easter weekend - with most of League Two playing this afternoon, his squad have one day’s less rest ahead of Monday’s clash with Morecambe.
Cooper may opt not to start with Brad Walker and Marlon Harewood in both fixtures.
Harewood is just back from an ankle injury so may not be up to the rigours of two starts while Walker may get a breather after showing signs of a brilliant and long first season in the Football League catching up with him.
James Poole could come in for Harewood and operate as the link between midfield and striker Luke James, while Connor Oliver looks set for his first Pools start tomorrow alongside Walton in the middle.
Oliver, surprisingly, played the full 90 minutes yesterday for Sunderland U21 in their Barclays Premier Reserve League game against West Ham.
Kevin Ball’s Black Cats were down to the bare bones, squad wise, and still had the chance of making the end-of-season play-offs, until conceding a last-gasp goal.
Despite playing yesterday, Oliver is likely to play tomorrow against the Brewers. Fellow on-loan Sunderland colleague Scott Harrison will continue at centre-half for the injured Christian Burgess (ankle).
Cooper’s only other selection posers are in midfield and in goal.
He must choose again between Andy Rafferty and Scott Flinders in goal, while in midfield he must decide whether to keep faith with the tweo Jacks, Barmby and Compton.
Neither have been effective in the last two Saturdays but iven the skill in their left feet, he may give both another chance.
On the subject of left footers, Cooper will hope to have hamstring victim Andy Monkhouse back and on the bench tomorrow.
For Burton, Zeli Ismail (hamstring) and Damien McCrory (knee) are out for the season, while Rob Lainton (finger) is a major doubt.
Burton (probable): Lyness; Gray, Sharps, Cansdell-Sherriff, McFadzean; Hemmings, Weir, Palmer, Phillips, Kee, Alexander.
Subs: Symes, Hall, Edwards, Holness, Bell, MacDonald, McGurk
Pools (possible): Rafferty, Duckworth, Harrison, Collins, Holden, Barmby, Oliver, Walton, Compton, Poole, James.
Subs (from): Flinders, Richards, Jones, Hawkins, Franks, Harewood, Walker, Monkhouse